With their winning streak now at a season-high seven games, the Tampa Bay Rays target a third straight series victory tonight in the middle portion of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners.
The Rays swept Toronto and Minnesota in back-to-back series, then handed the Mariners a 4-1 loss last night at Safeco Field. Pitching was once again key for Tampa Bay as Alex Cobb threw seven innings of one-run ball and both Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney hurled a scoreless inning of relief. Rodney posted his 37th save in the process.
"He's gone exactly seven innings each of his last four starts between 90 and 100 pitches. You could send him back out there right there, but I'm thinking, this guy's on such a nice run doing that, why mess with it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Cobb.
B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer and Ben Zobrist added three hits and an RBI for the Rays, winners of six straight on the road. The Rays are still five games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East and tied with Baltimore atop the Wild Card standings. Oakland is one-half game off the pace for one of the final two postseason spots in the AL.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria did not play to rest and is expected to be back in the lineup tonight. The Rays have not lost since he returned from the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
Tampa Bay, which is 4-0 on a 10-game road swing and will also visit the LA Angels for four games, is scheduled to send Matt Moore to the mound Tuesday and he has won three straight starts. Moore is 8-2 in his last 10 decisions and defeated the Blue Jays his last time out on Thursday in a 7-1 triumph. Moore held the Jays to a run in six innings to improve to 9-7 in 22 starts to go along with a 3.73 earned run average.
The left-hander lost to the Mariners on July 22 despite allowing two runs in eight innings, but defeated them back on May 1 with five innings of one-run ball.
Seattle had won seven in a row at Safeco Field until Monday's loss and kicked off a nine-game residency on a sour note.
Mariners starting pitcher Blake Beavan was dealt the loss for allowing all four runs in the third inning and eight hits in six innings of work. Eric Thames drove in the lone run and Kyle Seager had a team-best two hits.
"We were in the ballgame," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said, "but we just never had that inning, we never put that inning together."
One game after homering twice in a win over the Angels, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was hitless in four at-bats last night.
The Mariners have lost six of eight games and also will host Minnesota and Cleveland on the homestand. They will send veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood to the mound Tuesday and he is just 4-10 in 22 starts with a 4.38 ERA. Millwood has dropped consecutive starts and recently toed the rubber in a 9-2 setback at Baltimore on Wednesday, when he surrendered seven runs and eight hits in four innings.
Millwood lost at Tampa Bay on May 3 and was reached for four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 4-3 defeat. He is just 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays.
The Rays are 6-2 against the Mariners this season and have won 10 of the previous 12 meetings between the two ballclubs.